Many countries have been taking action against Chinese owned video app, TikTok. India this month banned dozens of Chinese apps, including TikTok, citing privacy concerns, amid tensions between the countries.
According to the latest reports, it seems the US is about to follow India in banning TikTok. President Donald Trump said he will take action as soon as Saturday to ban the video app that has been a source of national security and censorship concerns.
Mr. Trump’s comments came after published reports that the administration is planning to order China’s ByteDance to sell TikTok. There were also reports on Friday that software giant Microsoft is in talks to buy the app.
ByteDance launched TikTok in 2017, then bought Musical.ly, a video service popular with teens in the U.S. and Europe, and combined the two. A twin service, Douyin, is available for Chinese users.
TikTok’s fun, goofy videos, and ease of use has made it immensely popular, and U.S. tech giants like Facebook and Snapchat see it as a competitive threat. It has said it has tens of millions of U.S. users and hundreds of millions globally.
“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States. I can use emergency economic powers or an executive order to enforce the action. I have that authority. It’s going to be signed tomorrow,” Mr. Trump told reporters Friday on Air Force One as he returned from Florida.
Reports by Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal citing anonymous sources said the administration could soon announce a decision ordering ByteDance to divest its ownership in TikTok.
The app’s Chinese ownership has raised concerns about the censorship of videos, including those critical of the Chinese government, and the potential for sharing user data with Chinese officials.
TikTok maintains it doesn’t censor videos based on topics sensitive to China and it would not give the Chinese government access to U.S. user data even if asked. The company has hired a U.S. CEO, a former top Disney executive, in an attempt to distance itself from its Chinese ownership.
There have been reports of U.S. tech giants and financial firms being interested in buying or investing in TikTok as the Trump administration sets its sights on the app.
TikTok issued a statement Friday saying that, “While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok.”
U.S. national-security officials have been reviewing the Musical.ly acquisition in recent months, while U.S. armed forces have banned their employees from installing the app on government-issued phones. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this month that the U.S. was considering banning TikTok.